What Caused Pakistan to lose 4-1 To Great Britain in London 2012 Olympics Hockey?
Great Britain consolidated their position at the London 2012 men’s hockey competition with a 4-1 victory over Pakistan in front a cheering home crowd at the River bank Arena. Two goals from James Tindall and Jonty Clarke in the first half and two more by Ashley Jackson in the second half shattered Pakistan’s hopes for top honours in the pool. Pakistan’s consolation goal came in the dying moments of the game with a Sohail Abbas penalty corner conversion. This loss diminishes Pakistan’s chances for a semi final berth, who now need to win the remaining of their pool games against South Africa and World Champions Australia.
Britain certainly had an edge over Pakistan in this game as they had home ground advantage and are the hosts of the Olympic games. Team GB is quite an experienced side with six players in the squad – midfielders Rob Moore, Ben Hawes, Glen Kirkham and strikers James Tindall, Jonty Clarke and Barry Middleton having more than 200 caps each, while Pakistan have a number of youngsters in the team from the junior side. GB players have a good understanding with each other as they have been playing together since a number of years, but Pakistani players have been in and out of the squad over the years. Even the captain, Sohail Abbas did not know whether he would get a place in the final Olympics squad or be the captain. In Jason Lee, GB have a team manager who has been on the job for more than five years, unlike Pakistan who had fired Dutch coach Van Den Heuvel four months before the Olympics.
Team GB’s passing was precise, with players knowing what to do immediately when in possession. It seemed their set pieces were well versed for the game. Against this, Pakistani forwards had to wonder what to do next when they had the ball.
Pakistani team management’s decision to lay more emphasis on defensive play has been the main cause of their unsatisfactory performance in this tournament. A point also shared by a number of former Olympians. Hasan Sardar, speaking to a private TV channel diagonosed the team’s short comings as lack of short passes and combined moves, which have been the hall mark of Pakistan hockey in the past, while Olympian Shahnaz Shaikh retorted on PTV Sports that by playing with only three strikers we set ourselves a formidable challenge to penetrate the crowded defence of Great Britain.
It is the third pool game and we are witnessing the same trend. The Pakistani forward line is playing without combination to gain territory and penetrate opposition defences and their tactics are mostly individual runs and and one on one attempts to dribble past defenders. If this trend continues, then there is not much hope left for the green-shirts. It is not the players who are to blame for any loss, but the team management at whose behest the team adopts a formation and attempts to put it into action. Indeed, on trial in this tournament is not just the Pakistan hockey team but also the people responsible for its selection and coaching.